Your Parish and its History


THE story of the evolution of our present Irish topographical limitations is highly interesting, but of some complexity. It commences with the tricha cet (triuca cead) which, in its original connotation, was the area from which thirty hundred i fighting men might be drawn. This-the oldest Irish topographical division-is constantly referred to in the ancient I hero tales such as the rain. It is akin to all the ancient divisions of the Indo-European peoples, such as the Roman legio, the Norman cantred, the Welsh cantref, etc. The triuca cead seems to have come to Ireland in this way with the Celts even before the historical period .l

By the seventh or eighth century the military significance of the triuca cead had become changed to a political or social one-i.e. the unit had now become a unit of topography more in our modern sense. When the Normans came to Ireland i in the later twelfth century and royal grants of Irish land were made, these were based on the existing Irish triuca ceads to a large extent. Examples of this may be found in such sources as Sweetman's Calendar or in the Calendar of the Ormond Deeds. Various native authorities, such as Geoffrey Keatinge in his' Foras Feasa' or O'Flaherty in his' Ogygia,' [ enumerate the triuca ceads in this twelfth century at about 184 for the whole country viz. : In Meath 18, in connacht 30, tin Uladh 35, in Laigen 31, and in Mumhan east and west, 70. There are two other ancient divisions of land which we may glance at. The scholars do not seem to be in agreement about them. They are the tuath and the baile biadhthaigh. Dinneen equates the tuath with the triuca cead and makes the baile biadhthaigh one-thirtieth of a triuca cead and equates both to the more modern barony. 2 This is an over- simplification. We have not space to discuss this problem here and can only refer our readers to Dr. Hogan's paper hereafter to be quoted.

1 i.e. (in Ireland) before about 400 A.D.

2 Irish-English Dictionary (1927), pp. 70, 1254, 1267.

Suffice it to say that the writer's inquiries into the matter have left him with the impression that the tuath was a later sub-division of the triuca cead and that it also tended to sub- , divide. The baile biadhthaigh is our modern' townland,' i.e. a much smaller division which itself altered and subdivided from time to time as the local economy demanded; the arbitrary division given in Dinneen of 480 acres Irish will not stand the test of examination in the light of such an invaluable source as the Civil Survey of 1654. The original baile biadhthaigh of pre-Norman times may now contain a whole group of townlands.

All this and much more can be read in great detail and was presented with consummate scholarship in a paper on' The tricha cet and Its Related Land Measures' in the Royal Irish Academy Proceedings by Professor Hogan of University College, Cork. 1 Anyone who wishes to understand the evolution of Irish topography will find contentment in this valuable contribution founded on the Irish primary sources. It is, indeed, almost the only piece of work directed ad hoc to this particular aspect of Irish history, and the reader will find himself referred at all points of detail to scholars such as MacNeill, O'Curry, Thurneysen etc. One thing clearly and distinctly' emerges from Dr. Hogan's study, as indeed it does and must from any cognate inquiry. It is that, except as it were by accident, our modern Irish counties have no roots whatever in Irish history or tradition. Some of us, who pride ourselves on being' Tipperary men' or' Clare men' or whatever it may be, will find this a difficult pill to swallow; but it is something well known to every Irish historical scholar. Indeed the late Eoin MacNeill put this matter almost brutally when he said emphatically but correctly that our Irish Counties were set up by the English for the purposes of the gaol, the sheriff, and the hangman. ;

Where, then, are we to look for the historic origins of our topography ? The answer lies in the dioceses, the baronies, the rural deaneries, and, finally, in the Irish ancient parishes. All these, in one degree or another, evolved out of the more ancient triuca ceads and tuatha. It has been the practice of the Church in all ages of its history to found its units of

1 Proceedings Royal Irish Academy, xxxviii (1929), pp. 148 ff.

ecclesiastical government on the existing units of civil government ; indeed the practice still exists to-day in missionary countries. The dioceses of Ireland were delimited at the twelfth-century Synods of Rathbreasail (A.D. 1111) and Kells (A.D. 1152) and, substantially, their bounds have since remained unaltered. These diocesan divisions were made, to a large extent, on pre-existing Irish divisions of civil rule, i.e. upon the triuca ceads. To be sure some adjustments had to be made to meet local conditions and it seems probable that the pre-existing monastic termons were a factor to be allowed for . This is a large subject in regard to detail, and the answer to it must be supplied for each diocese by its diocesan historian before a definitive result can be presented. The general outline is clear enough. If a map of the dioceses of Cashel and Emly, Limerick, Killaloe and Kilfenora, and Waterford and Lismore is superimposed on the modern counties of Clare, Tipperary , Limerick and Waterford, abundant illustration will be found. It will be seen, for instance, that all the Deisi country south of Cashel is included in Waterford and Lismore (although in Co. Tipperary) while Kilfenora (Corcum Ruadh) is cut away from modern Clare in a diocese of its own which once included the Aran Islands. l In Killaloe will be found portions of five English-made counties but of only one ancient Irish kingdom.

The integration of the tuatha or lesser chieftains of kingdoms in the topography of our time proceeded in much the same way. Many of them, mentioned in the early Norman land grants as cantreds, became in time baronies in the Norman administration. In the dioceses many of them became deaneries. This last is so, in particular, in the western dioceses where the Norman penetration of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was not so extensive or not so enduring. Dr. Hogan, for instance, points out in regard to Thomond that the diocesan deaneries shown in the royal visitation of the Protestant bishop. Dr. John Rider, in 1615 2 to the west of the Shannon. Correspond exactly with the twelfth-century triuca ceads for the same area 3

Let us come now at last to the smaller unit of the parish .

1 The Aran Islands are now in the diocese of Tuam but were formerly in Kilfenora

2 Printed in Dwyer Diocese of Killaloe pp89 ff.

3 Ubi cit n.3

Some years ago the writer asked a friend to make him an outline map of the ancient parishes of Clare.l You can see such a map, excellently drawn and showing the larger triuca ceads,

in Sean O'Hogain's ' Conntae an Clair. ' Some of the parishes are broad and wide, some narrow, some divided into two or more separate moieties j some even had a townland or two completely severed and immured in the centre of a neighbouring parish; some twisted and turned like some pre-historic beast

that had unwound itself from the Book of Kells. At once the inquiry presented itself-where did these parish bounds come from and on what basis were they set up ? Dr. Hogan's paper does not deal with this problem: indeed a fairly extensive search in the Journals and authorities provided no light what-

ever, until one came on a short but most valuable paper by the late Rev. Professor Power on' The Bounds and Extent 'of Irish Parishes.' 2 This, however, is mainly concerned rather with the topographical history of our parish bounds than with their original delimitation, but it will be found most useful to the parish historian. First of all let us see what we mean by the word' parish.'

Primarily one supposes that, to the average person, it means the unit of jurisdiction of a parish priest. But what is meant by a' civil' parish and what relation has the present Catholic parish to the old pre-reformation unit of jurisdiction ? Canon Power's paper deals comprehensively with all this. Shortly,

the bounds of the parishes marked on the pre-1907 issues of the Ordnance sheets and often miscalled' civil ' parishes are the bounds of the ancient pre-reformation ecclesiastical parochial benefices. They are now mainly mentioned in legal documents. After the reformation they remained in the Protestant Church of necessity, because it was on them that the parochial tithes of the rectors and vicars of that Church were founded in the same way as those of the earlier parochi. In the Catholic Church

they also remained and were the foundation of the parochial economy, but the scarcity of priests from the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth made it usually necessary for a single priest to undertake the care of souls in two, three, or, sometimes,

1 It can be seen in my paper. Parish Bounds in Killa1oe Diocese' in North Munster Antiquarian Journal, 1949.

2.In Feilscribhinn Torna, pp. 218 ff.

five or six of these ancient units at the same time; nor, indeed, could the poverty of the people support more than one priest often over a large area. 1 Thus large' unions' grew up, especially in country districts-i.e. amalgamations of the ancient pre-reformation parishes. After the establishment of Maynooth in the late eighteenth century, and, later, after emancipation came, the. supply of priests improved. The process then began to be reversed and the large unions came to be severed into separate parishes again. It will be the task of our diocesan historians to describe these processes in their various dioceses before a conspectus of the whole can be obtained; the main outline, however, is quite clear.

Unfortunately the new divisions of the early nineteenth century did not always exactly correspond with the ancient units. For reasons of convenience alterations were made here and there; a particular townland might be left in one parish where, before the reformation, it had been in another; single townlands, immured in old times in an adjoining parish of immemorial grant were allowed to remain there; in the exceptional case, for some particular purpose three or four parishes might be taken into hotchpot and a new parish or parishes carved out. By and large these changes in the ancient topography were not of great moment, and in the main-in so far at least as the' writer has been able to investigate it over a limited area-in the Catholic arrangements the modern parishes or unions of our time are more or less exact amalgamations of two or more ancient parishes; some indeed represent one ancient parish only and so have the same bounds as they had at their first delimitation in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries or, as we shall see, even earlier. 2 In the result there are now in most of our dioceses far fewer parochial benefices than there Were prior to the reformation period; in Killaloe, for example, there are now 57 parochial unions-in the same area up to the reformation there were approximately 116 units of parochia1 jurisdiction, many of which, of course, formed the corps of prebends or were' impropriate ' to various religious houses.

1 A contemporary account of this process in Waterford and Lismore and in Cashel in the Restoration Period can be read in the Relationes of Archbishop John Brennan , of Cashel printed by Canon Power.

2 .e.g. the parish of Tulac an Easpuig (Tulla) in Killaloe where the bounds still i represent the area of the termon of St. Mochulla.

Let us go back a little further now to try to find out whence did the bounds of these pre-reformation benefices themselves derive. We know that the delimitation of them as parishes lay in the hands of the diocesan bishops after the synods of Rathbreasail and Kells. We have seen that the practice of the Church, then as now, was to relate as far as possible the unit of. ecclesiastical jurisdiction to a pre-existing unit. We know also that, in Ireland, the pre-existing units were either monastic or civil. It was on the areas of civil rule that the diocesan divisions had been made in the twelfth century and prima facie we might expect that the same rule would have guided the bishops in the setting up of their internal parochial divisions. It was not quite so simple as that, for other factors were at work as well. We may expect that the work began soon after Kells. In the absence of nearly all the diocesan registries we have little to guide us as to date and nothing -that the writer is aware of as to detail from this source. The first list of Irish parishes of a comprehensive nature is that found in a Norman state paper of the first years of the fourteenth century .1 This was prepared for taxation purposes and the names are set down in phonetics and have been edited for the print by persons who had no local knowledge; moreover, it is at least doubtful if they had much knowledge of Irish or were always well equipped paleographers. The results are therefore not always all that might be desired. In so far as the original rolls may be still available, one hopes that they may be re-read and re-edited.

This list of Sweetman, in the circumstances of its preparation, cannot be taken to be either complete or fully accurate. Some earlier documents available here and there from the diocesan registries or other sources will provide names not found on it and such important and almost contemporary sources as the Papal Letters Calendar and the Annates Bonds will provide additions to it. At least we know from its very existence that parochial divisions had been made in all the Irish dioceses before 1300 and that is all that need here concern us, except for such indications as we may draw from it as to their names. -We know that a diocesan bishop by virtue of his ordinary authority may institute new parishes, rearrange or abolish

1 Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland (ed. Sweetman).

existing ones, make and dissolve unions, and, in general, alter parochial divisions for good reason, as he may see fit. In consequence of all these things it is not easy to determine when any particular parish was delimited or how far its present bounds may be identical with its most ancient ones. In general, however, and subject to what has been already written, we may still postulate that the bounds of our Irish parishes to-day- though most of them are unions of one or more pre-reformation parishes-go back to before A.D. 1300 and many of them to before Rathbreasail. It is for the individual parochial or diocesan historian to furnish us with more particular details, and it is to be stressed that, except in rare cases, this has not been done.

Where may the local historian look for guidance in this important task ? Such investigations as the writer has made have been confined to a single diocese (Killaloe) and the conditions that obtained there in the period AD 1111 to AD 1900 may not be identical or even comparable with those in other diocesan areas. What follows, then, is offered here rather by way of suggestion than as an accepted basis of investigation. It may not be correct in detail, but at least it is the fruit of many

years of delving into primary sources, even if it be rather the conviction that comes after such a search than a conclusion that is demonstrable by historical proof. So far, therefore, from being the last word it is tentatively offered rather as almost the first word. It must be stressed again that we have few

remnants of the Irish diocesan registries in the early period or even in the penal days or, for that matter, even up to a -century ago. Conditions must have varied greatly in the different dioceses-in the eastern ones the extent of the Norman conquest was greater, and was also earlier, than in the western and was more permanent. Here also, after the commencement of the thirteenth century, more of the bishops were Norman-for the attempts of the Norman kings of England to obtain control of the government of any diocese where they had obtained a footing by having a Norman bishop set at the head of them (by fair means or, occasionally, by foul) is one of the features of the Church history of this period. It is essential that an investigation be made into the conditions in each diocese from

this angle from the time of the Norman invasion before one can arrive at an understanding of the origin of their parish bounds. This must be borne in mind in considering what is to follow.

Inquiry in Killaloe seems to suggest very strongly that the first delimitation of Irish pre-reformation diocesan parishes there was based mainly on the following pre-existing topographical units :-(1) The monastic termons of the pre- Rathbreasail period which were in being or known up to the twelfth century. (2) The Charter or other grants of (a) Irish kings or chieftains ( b) Norman kings or barons, to the new religious foundations of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. (3) On the tuatha, i.e. the area of control of the lesser chieftain families. Taking the first of these will bring us to the consideration of one of the most difficult problems which must have confronted the early diocesan bishops, i.e. how to integrate the ancient monastic termons in the new dispensation. This had already given a deal of trouble to the Synods of Rathbreasail and Kells in connection with the diocesan areas.l Allover the country were places like Iniscathaigh, Ros are, Lorrha, Tir-dha glas, Tuam Greine etc. (I mention the main ones in Killaloe only) where, prior to Rathbreasail, the successors ( co-arbs) of the ancient monastic founders had exercised a spiritual and temporal jurisdiction over the termons2 or monastic lands given to them, at various times since St. Patrick's day, by pious chieftains or kings, much as legacies or trust funds are given to-day.

There is not space here to deal with this very interesting and important matter, but the problem of how to deal with them within a diocese governed by Ordinary jurisdiction was acute after Kells and demanded urgent solution. Suffice it to say that the solution appears to have been found by a Synod of Connacht in the early thirteenth century which agreed (with the concurrence of many of the coarbs) that the termon lands were to go to the bishop in whose diocese they lay but that the coarb family was to retain possession of them as hereditary

1 See, for example, Seymour' The Coarb in the Medieval Irish Church ' Proc. Royal Irish Academy, xli (1933), pp. 219 ff. ; Lawlor (H. J.) , A Fresh Authority for the Synod of Kells.' Ibid. xxxvi (1922), pp. 16 ff. ; and Gwynn ' The Centenary of the Synod of Kells ' I. E. REcoRD, March and April, 1952.

2 Termon' from the Latin' terminus,' a quo many Irish place-names containing , Tarmon.'

tenants paying a chief rent to the bishop as Cathedratics.1 In practice (in Killaloe at all events) this arrangement was implemented by the termons becoming diocesan parishes and so preserving their existence as units in the new dispensation. In many cases there was but one termon around the ancient monastic house-but in some cases there were several scattered termons and they might lie in different dioceses. Thus the termons of St. Senan of Iniscathaigh lay in four different dioceses viz. Killaloe, Ardfert, Limerick, and Cloyne. In this particular case there was a determined attempt to preserve them as a distinct diocese. This did not succeed at Rathbreasail, but a bishop of Iniscathaigh appears at Kells. Eventually a Collegiate Church Major was set up at Iniscathaigh with 24 secular canons to each of whom was allocated a prebend corresponding to one of the ancient' portions' or termons. The Ordinary jurisdiction over the termons remained with the bishop of the diocese in which each of them lay and they were not' exempt.' 2 In other cases the monastic termon became a diocesan parish with the coarb family as tenants and, whether as a result of agreement or practice, this family exercised in most cases the right of patronage and presentation and usually one finds a member of the family as rector and/or vicar up to the reformation period. Thus in Tuaim Greine the benefice is usually called' termon O'Grada ' in the Papal Letters and it was also a diocesan prebend and all the holders are of the

O'Grada family. These coarb families continued to be known almost up to our own time and, though they lost their rights and their termon lands to the Protestant bishops after Henry VIII, in many cases they held on to the Bacall or other insignia (bell, etc.) of their founder saint or to manuscripts like the Book of Armagh or the Book of Dimma to a much later period. 3

1 An. Clonmacnoise sub. an. 1210: .There was a great convocation of the clergy of Connacht before the bushopp of Twame, to make constitutions for the taking away the Termine lands or Cowarb lands, and annexing them to the bushopricks of the diocess where they lay, where the cowarb of St. Patrick, the cowarb of St. Brandon, the cowarb of St. Queran, and the cowarb of St. ffechine, with many others appeared.'

2 See' The Collegiate Church of Iniscathaigh,' North Munster Antiquarian Journal, 1940.

3 The keeper of the Book of Armagh was MacMaoir (Ang. MacWyre)-Maoir meaning a keeper (e.g. of ecclesiastical heirlooms etc.) In Dromcliffe (Ennis) the coarbs were also MacMaoir (Ang. .Meere ').

It is-or at least so it appears to the writer-in this continuation of the monastic coarb and his termon as a diocesan parish, that we have the most ancient and the most remarkable origin of some of our modern parish bounds. The present diocesan parish of Tulla in Clare, for example (it is a single parish and not a union), represents in its bounds the old monastic termon of St. Mochulla and thus contains the same administrative ecclesiastical area as it did in the seventh century. Elsewhere

I have ventured to suggest that between thirty and forty of the 116 benefices of Killaloe listed in 1615 had their origin in this way. l

Coming to the twelfth and early thirteenth century grants of the Irish and Norman kings and chieftains to religious houses, we have another important source of our parish bounds. In this period there were many foundations from both sources, to the Aroasian Canons of St. Augustine, to the Cistercians, and to others. Not many of the Irish Charter grants are still extant. Those of King Domnall Mor to Kilcooley and to the Augustinian Abbey of Clare (de Forgio) may be instanced. In some of them the lands in the grant are set out in some detail and the origins of one or more diocesan parishes may be traced from them. The same is true of the Norman charter grants to be found in such sources as the Calendar of the Ormond Deeds. It seems probable indeed that, where the Normans had penetrated in force and set up an extensive and thickly populated manor area with a Norman clergy even in an' Irish , diocese (as at Bunratty in Clare), special parochial arrangements were made for them, as is witnessed by the fact that there are seven ancient parochial divisions in the modern Catholic union of Newmarket-on-Fergus, and another called Cill Mhuire na nGall in the adjoining parish union of Sixmilebridge. It is clear, at all events, that some modifications had to be made from time to time to cope with the ebb and flow of the Norman power especially in the' Irish' dioceses (i.e. which lay' inter Hibernicos' as the saying was). When all this has been said, it remains that probably the greatest source of our ancient parochial divisions was that they were made to correspond to the tuath or area of lands of the

1 See. The Coarbs of Killa1oe Diocese,' Journal of Royal Society of Antiquaries. Centenary Vo1. 1949, pp. 160 ff.

lesser chieftain families. Thus they have associations going back far beyond Rathbreasail and Kells. The very parochial names in many cases show that this is so. It would indeed be an interesting study to ascertain how many parochial names in Ireland were derived from population groups. The writer has made no such study, but can say that they form quite a large proportion. The Papal Letters Calendar amplifies this with entries such as a description of the united parishes of Dromcliffe {Ennis) and Kilmayley as' commonly called Vi Cormaic.' There are many other parishes, however, which must have been delimited on a population group or Norman manor lands although given names referring either to their patron, or to their church, or to some remarkable topographical feature,

Gill Mor, Cill Ard etc. Exceptionally there are a few { e.g. in Killaloe, Cuinnce, Knigh, and Dolla) of whose place-name origins it is not possible to be sure.


All the foregoing is the background of our parish histories still to be written. It has not been adequately examined or probed except here and there and, in the result, the general historian of Ireland has not material from which to prepare a comparative study; and historical geography in Ireland is almost an unknown science. The main object of this paper is to make an appeal for the writing down at once of what is available for this history of each parish in Ireland. There are

hardly fifty parishes in the country for which this has been adequately done. Even where it has, new material is constantly coming to hand through the activities of the Irish MSS. Commission, the Catholic Record Society, and the microfilm service of the National Library of Ireland-to name but three of the many new aids to the local historian. This parish history is by no means necessarily a work for specialists-it can be done by the parishioners of any parish in Ireland with a little guidance.

There is no accepted technique-indeed the whole subject is a new one; and the remainder of this paper contains merely the ideas that have come to one who has worked on the subject on a system of trial and error and with little to guide him. There is no doubt that a more efficient and more expeditious

system can be worked out.

When someone nowadays wants to write' something' for a local lecture, or the local paper, on the story of his native parish he usually looks around to find what has been written

already, adds a few quotations from Lewis, gives an odd local tradition (sometimes very , odd ') and considers his work is done. If he can find a local reference in the Four Masters he is a made man. This is no use. I t repeats all the mistakes of his predecessors (if any) and makes' history , of them. Such

a writer won't even bother to acknowledge his sources-much less quote them accurately. It is better to undertake the work Ion a businesslike basis by getting a team together-anyway one man has not sufficient time except he is prepared to spend most of his life at it. Get a man for the team who can make maps and plans; another who can photograph or sketch antiquities; attach the local classical scholar and someone who knows something about the earlier forms of Irish; if there is a parishioner or two who is a student in Dublin or Cork or Galway, enlist him right away, for you will have occasion to get him to look up sources not available locally.

Commence by making the parish map. Get the one-inch Ordnance sheets which cover the modern parish or union of parishes. Cut out the relevant portions and paste them together so that you have the whole parochial area on one sheet instead of scattered over several. Now get a set of the six-inch sheets which will show you every field. Get the earlier issues (pre-1907) which show the ancient parochial bounds of the pre-reformation parishes. The first issue (1835/40) is the best of all but these sheets are now hard to come by. There is a lot of century-old history in this early issue. Get your mapping expert to transfer the bounds of the old or pre-Reformation parishes in your union on to your map and to colour each parish with a light wash in a different shade. If your parish is not a' union,' you will be saved that much trouble. When you have made a good job of this you will have the framework of your parish history complete.

Now turn to your six-inch sheets-if possible of the first issue. You will find that the Surveyors of 1830/40 knew a lot about your parish that you never heard of before; so well they might for they heard it on the spot from the parishioners of 130 years ago. You will see lost place-names, lost street names in towns, and perhaps indications of ruins which have since vanished. Get your map maker to compare the old sheet with the new one and add some identifications from it to the new map you have just made. With the map as your basis now start collecting your pieces to work out the jig-saw puzzle of your parish story .

Get some of your team on to the field work; let the parish bounds be walked field by field. If the Cromwellian Civil Survey of 1654 is available for your parish, get a copy of the relevant issue of it by the Irish Manuscripts Commission from your County Librarian or buy it if you can and count yourself fortunate. It is available for Tipperary, Limerick, Waterford, a small part of Kerry, Dublin (except two baronies), Kildare {except Ophalev), Meath, Wexford (except Forth), Donegal, Derry, and Tyrone. Some additional matter has turned up in the Calendar of the Ormond Deeds, especially for Kilkenny and Carlow. Dr. Simington's Introduction to Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the Irish Manuscripts Commission issue will enlighten you a good deal and lead you on to the Books of Survey and Distribution of Charles II, which are available in print or manuscript for a much wider area. If you have the Civil Survey at your disposal you will find it a fascinating study with your own local knowledge to follow the descriptions of the local {Irish) jurymen of 1654 as to the bounds of your native parish {and theirs). Check these bounds with the modern ones. You will probably find that they vary very little, if at all. If they do, you are put on inquiry as to why and you may find that it is due to some arrangement made about a century ago, when a penal days' , union' with another parish was split up.

Now get from your County Library a set of John O'Donovan's Ordnance Survey Letters and Name Books for your parish. They complement the first issue of the O.S. maps and are of equal date. It does not follow that because O'Donovan and his helpers prepared them that they are necessarily always right. They had a herculean job and they did it well, but they made many mistakes of necessity and especially in the interpretation \ of place-names ; you will make many yourself also, so do not

f blame them. There are other records of this Survey of O'Donovan (Field Books etc.), available in the Royal Irish Academy, and your student may be able to look them up. A list of this material for each county was prepared many years ago by the late Canon John O'Hanlon, the Irish hagiographist,

, and will be found printed in the early Proceedings of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society (now the Royal Society of Antiquaries). The Survey Letters and Name Books have been issued in typescript by Counties by the late Father M. O'Flanagan.

With these aids get someone to list all the townland names from the maps and then to go around the parish and collect from the people the old field names and mark them at least on your six-inch sheets. Let him then go over the maps and check the antiquities shown on them. Get a photograph of each ruin of importance and record the measurements and draw a ground plan to scale of any ecclesiastical ruin or large fort or tumulus. It will be no harm at this stage to divide your collection of material into periods such as the pre-historic, the monastic, the pre-reformation, and the post-reformation. Mark all antiquities on your map if they are not there already. Use a sign and identification letter to save space and prepare a manuscript or typed folder for all you can collect about the history of each. For identification, I suggest at least the following books :-the late Professor O'Riordain's Antiquities of the Irish Countryside, Dr. Leask's Irish Churches and. Monastic Buildings and the same author's Irish Castles. If you have a notable ecclesiastical ruin you may also find Champney's Irish Ecclesiastical Architecture will help you. You may find that there is a ruined church or other antiquity in your parish so covered with ivy and growths that you cannot see it at all. If this is so, enlist the aid of the Ancient Monuments Committee of your County Council to clean it. If you find there is none, insist on one being formed. Do not touch the ruin yourself without authority for it is a criminal offence and, if that does not deter you, you are more likely to do harm than good if you do not know how to do it properly.

Make a close examination of your parish graveyards. Many of them are so neglected that they may give you more work than you bargain for. Some of them are vested in the County Council, some in the Representative Church Body, and some as Ancient Monuments. Insist on their being kept clean and tidy, whoever is responsible. Let your workers make a careful list of all the old tombstones they can read. There is no record of most of them, and they are often of great sentimental value to tourists and occasionally of great historical value as well. When the graveyards are being cleaned or new graves dug, ask whoever is in charge to notify you of any old gravestones or inscribed or worked stones which may come up in the digging inside the choir of the church especially they may give you the name of a long-forgotten pastor and the date of his death.

Coming to the task of assembling the materials from which to build up the story of the parish, there are three main sources viz. (i) the visible remains of the past (ii) the manuscript and printed sources (iii) tradition. The writer has found the last must be treated with great care; most of it is folklore and not history. For example, the same stories about' underground passages' and the moving of holy wells are found all over Ireland. We have already dealt with the examination of ancient remains and their noting on the parish map. There remains the manuscript and printed sources.

To present any kind of comprehensive guide to the written and printed sources for local history would need a lifetime of work and a very large volume. You may find a piece for your puzzle almost anywhere. The main thing is, having found it, to see that it is carefully noted and put aside where it can be found when wanted. The lack of a proper filing system has destroyed the morale and atrophied the energy of many an otherwise excellent local worker. To provide one on which you can rely should be your first care even if it means handing this work over exclusively to one individual. Beyond insisting on that, all that can be done here is to indicate some of the main sources-examination of these will lead you naturally to others.

First of all, get your student to go through the Indices of the publications of the learned Societies and abstract all the parochial references. Perhaps your County Librarian may have already done this for you. By this I mean the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, and the Journals of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, the Cork, Galway, Thomond, Kildare, and Louth Archaeological and Historical Societies. This is slow work, but most rewarding. Turn from these to the publications of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, all of which are original records not hitherto easily available; you can get them either in your local Library or through the Central Library for students. You will be able to find items of local interest in them all.

For the ecclesiastical history of the parish in the pre- Rathbreasail period all the sources you will need have already been assembled for you in Dr. J. F. Kenney's monumental Sources for the Early History of Ireland. Vol. I. Ecclesiastical. Unfortunately Dr. Kenney died before the second volume was written, but in this great work he has provided a kind of , Bible' for the student of early Irish Church history. From 432 to 1200 you will find in it a practically complete list not only of the manuscript sources themselves but also of all editions and commentaries. For the medieval period in Irish Church history (1200/1535) the greatest mine is the thirteen-volume print of the Calendar of the Papal Letters; other volumes are in preparation. It contains prints of original records emanating from Rome and Avignon dealing with almost every parish in Ireland and some- times in the most intimate way. There is, for one reason or another, more matter in it regarding the more western dioceses than the eastern ones. Complementary to this are the Annates Bonds (First Fruit Bonds) largely printed by the Catholic Record Society of Maynooth from a transcript made in Rome by the late Father Costelloe, O.P. Many other records of this nature will be found in all the issues of Archivium Hibernicum, the Socie'ty's Journal, as well as in Analecta Hibernica, the journal of the Irish Manuscripts Commission. It will be well worth your while either to take in those Journals or to insist that your Librarian does so. You should also join one of the local Societies mentioned above-whichever is nearest to you. They need your help as much as you need theirs and it is a matter of reproach that, in a country that spends about ten millions per annum on education, their membership in general is smaller than it was in the days of the British occupation. By searching through these volumes you will be led by footnotes to others. It does not sound very exciting but, once you get into it, no cross-word puzzle will ever have the same appeal.

There is a mass of documents in print in what is known as the Rolls Series. Some of the larger (Carnegie) Libraries have a set of them outside Dublin and the Universities. On the Annals, it is better first to satisfy yourself about their number so many think that the only Annals we have are the Four Masters, whose Annals are more of a synthesis of older Annals than original matter. The main Annals are now in print and easily available, mostly with translations. If you consult O'Curry's book of lectures on' Manuscript' Materials you will find them and many similar sources listed and annotated. Many of the other more important Gaelic texts have been printed and edited in such volumes as the publications of the Irish Texts Society. For the remains of the Irish poets and other Irish manuscript material, it is essential to go through the lists of Irish manuscripts in the British Museum, the Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College, and the other main repositories, and edited by such scholars as Robin Flower (' Blathin ') , Standish O'Grady, etc. Quite recently the Academy have

published no less than twenty-eight small volumes dealing with the Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy collection ; they are a mine of information, as to local conditions, especially

in the districts which the .poets favoured in the eighteenth century. Finally the reader is referred to two papers in which Father Brady and I have severally attempted to at least scratch the surface of a list of sources for the local historian. l Let it be insisted on, however, that a missing piece of parochial history may be found anywhere-in an Annalistic entry, in an early Papal record, in an eighteenth century newspaper, on a buried tombstone, in a collection of deeds rotting in an estate or lawyer's

office, in a bundle of old letters thrown on the dust-heap.

All this work is slow but most rewarding and, as you work, the at first dim outline of your parish history will begin to fill in; after a while the gaps will begin to close and your horizon will acquire a border. All you find must not be taken on faith ; indeed from time to time you may be able to check up on an error made by someone who tilled in the same field before you. Do not be in too great a hurry ; get the essentials first-such as the map-and let the story fill itself in by building up files relating to different aspects of it. You will find that the most 1difficult period for lack of material will be the penal times . No parish records are available to us here for the eighteenth

1 The Sources for Local History in the period 1200-1700,' Journal of Cork Archeological Society, 1941, pp. 123 ff. Father Brady's lecture is printed in lrisleabhar Muighe Nuadhat, 1946, pp. 15-18. See also T. P. Q'Neill's Sources of Irish local History (1958)

century or often for the early nineteenth; most of our parish registers do not ante-date Emancipation; not indeed that they were not kept, but that they have disappeared-where ? If you have an old local newspaper go through its files with a fine comb-advertisements and all ; there is a lot of local history entombed in them.

When you have got some distance, what use should you make of your material ? First of all make sure your parish map is correct and place it in some public place where everyone can see it. Send some of your material from time to time to one of the Archaeological Journals, the Editor will be very glad to print it. The editor of your local paper will also be very glad to hear from you, but make sure that whatever you send him can be vouched for and is original. Much of what appears in local papers is someone else's work unacknowledged. Let your ambition be to print a parish history. It will not cost so much and will be for you and your workers a monumentum aere perennius.l If someone says tq you, like the old priest in My New Curate, , Cui bono ? ' do not heed him. The parish community is the core of our religious and national life-it. Is to us what the' cell ' is to the Communist. It may be that your parish history will not always be edifying-if it is not, remember that the late Pope Leo XIII in his Brief on the writing of history quoted with approval the dictum of Polydorus that the function of a historian was to set down nothing that was false but to set down everything that was true. The objective historian-at the national or parochial level-is one of our greatest needs to-day. If you present the facts of your parish story to the parishioners, divorced from a false romanticism, they will thank you for doing so, there will be enough in your narrative to give them a genuine pride in those who have gone before them, and to enable them to separate the wheat from the chaff, and it may be, indeed, that you may be building even better than you know.

1 Our workers will be assisted by How to Write a Parish History by R. B. Pugh (Allen and Unwin, 1954). It has little on Irish history, but fully explains the parish system in England and will be found helpful in regard to the Papal Letters Calendar references in the pre-reformation period.